America Needs to Wake Up!
by Phil Ouimette (Capt USN)
America needs to wake up! That's what we think we heard on the
11th of September 2001 – when more than 3,000 Americans
were killed – and maybe it was, but I think it should have
been "Get out of bed!" In fact, I think the alarm clock has been
buzzing since 1979 and we have continued to hit the snooze button
and roll over for a few more minutes of peaceful sleep since
It was a cool fall day in November 1979 in a country going
through a religious and political upheaval when a group of
Iranian students attacked and seized the American Embassy in
Tehran. This seizure was an outright attack on American soil; it
was an attack that held the world's most powerful country hostage
and paralyzed a presidency. The attack on this sovereign U.S.
embassy set the stage for events to follow for the next 25 years.
America was still reeling from the aftermath of the Vietnam
experience and had a serious threat from the Soviet Union when
then-President Carter had to do something. He chose to conduct a
clandestine raid in the desert. The ill-fated mission ended in
ruin, but stood as a symbol of America's inability to deal with
America's military had been decimated and down sized ("right
sized") since the end of the Vietnam War. A poorly trained,
poorly equipped, and poorly organized military was called on to
execute a complex mission that was doomed from the start.
Shortly after the Tehran experience, Americans began to be
kidnapped and killed throughout the Middle East. America could do
little to protect her citizens living and working abroad. The
attacks against U.S. soil continued.
In April of 1983, a large vehicle packed with high explosives was
driven into the U.S. embassy compound in Beirut. When it
explodes, it kills 63 people. The alarm went off again and
America hit the snooze button once more.
Then just six short months later in 1983, a large truck heavily
laden with over 2500 pounds of TNT smashed through the main gate
of the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters in Beirut, and 241 U.S.
servicemen are killed. America mourns her dead and hit the snooze
button once more.
Two months later in December 1983, another truck loaded with
explosives is driven into the U.S. embassy in Kuwait, and America
continues her slumber.
The following year, in September 1984, another van was driven
into the gate of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, and America slept.
Soon the terrorism spread to Europe. In April 1985, a bomb
explodes in a restaurant frequented by U.S. soldiers in Madrid.
Then in August 1985, a Volkswagen loaded with explosives is
driven into the main gate of the U.S. Air Force base at
Rhein-Main – 22 are killed, and the snooze alarm is buzzing
louder and louder as U.S. interests are continually attacked.
Fifty-nine days later, in 1985, a cruise ship, the Achille Lauro,
is hijacked. We watched as an American in a wheelchair is singled
out of the passenger list and executed.
The terrorists then shift their tactics to bombing civilian
airliners when they bomb TWA Flight 840 in April of 1986, that
killed four, and the most tragic bombing, Pan Am Flight 103 over
Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 259.
Clinton treated these terrorist acts as crimes; in fact, we are
still trying to bring these people to trial. These are acts of
The wake up alarm is getting louder and louder.
The terrorists decide to bring the fight to America. In January
1993, two CIA agents are shot and killed as they enter CIA
headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
The following month, February 1993, a group of terrorists are
arrested after a rented van packed with explosives is driven into
the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in New
York City. Six people are killed and over 1000 are injured. Still
this is a crime and not an act of war? The snooze alarm is
Then in November 1995, a car bomb explodes at a U.S. military
complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia killing seven service men and
A few months later, in June of 1996, another truck bomb explodes
only thirty-five yards from the U.S. military compound in
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. It destroys the Khobar Towers, a U.S. Air
Force barracks, killing nineteen and injuring over 500. The
terrorists are getting braver and smarter as they see that
America does not respond decisively.
They move to coordinate simultaneous attacks on two U.S.
embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These attacks were planned with
precision. They kill 224. America responds with cruise missile
attacks on suspected targets, and goes back to sleep.
The USS Cole was docked in the port of Aden, Yemen for refueling
on 12 October 2000, when a small craft pulled along side the ship
and exploded, killing seventeen U.S. Navy sailors. Attacking a
U.S. war ship is an act of war, but we sent the FBI to
investigate the crime, and went back to sleep.
And of course you know the events of 11 September 2001. Most
Americans think this was the first attack against U.S. soil or in
America. How wrong they are. America has been under a constant
attack since 1979, and we have chosen to hit the snooze alarm, to
roll over, and go back to sleep.
In the news lately we have seen lots of finger pointing from
every high official in government over what they knew and what
they didn't know. But if you've read the papers and paid a little
attention, I think you can see exactly what they knew. You don't
have to be in the FBI or CIA or on the National Security Council
to see the pattern that has been developing since 1979.
The president is right-on when he says "we are engaged in a war".
I think we have been in a war for the past 25 years and it will
continue until we, as a people, decide enough is enough. America
needs to "get out of bed" and act decisively now. America has
been changed forever. We have to be ready to pay the price and
make the sacrifice to ensure our way of life continues. We cannot
afford to keep hitting the snooze button again and again, rolling
over and going back to sleep.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto said "... it
seems all we have done is awakened a sleeping giant." This is the
message we need to disseminate to terrorists around the world.
Support our troops and support President Bush for having the
courage, politically or militarily, to address what so many who
preceded him didn't have the backbone to do, both Democrat and
Republican. This is not a political thing to be hashed over in an
election year – this is an AMERICAN thing. This is about
our freedom and the freedom of our children in years to come.
If you believe in this effort, please share this with your
friends, especially with young people, and all those who dozed
off in history class. This wake up alarm is for those who seem so
quick to protest such a necessary military action, and just want
to hit the snooze button, so they can go back to sleep.